5,000 Freed in Boko Haram Rescue Operation

The rescue took place in the northeastern part of the country in four remote villages. 10 militants and one civilian were allegedly killed during the operation.

This isn’t the first time the Nigerian Army has rescued a large number of kidnapped civilians this year, and it could signal a weakening of the militant group. However, the situation remains complex. Those close to high level leaders within the government remain under scrutiny.

Boko Haram has operated a deadly campaign in Nigeria since 2009, and in that time, the group has killed roughly 20,000 civilians and displaced over 2.5 million from their land.

Boko Haram has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, and according to those who have been rescued, life under the militant group is brutal.

Binta Abdullahi, who was rescued over a year ago, told ABC News that abducted women are threatened with forced marriage or slavery:

They asked us to marry Boko Haram members but we told them there was no way we could get married because we were already married to our husbands. They said since we would not marry them they would sell us as slaves at the right time.

Another woman rescued in the same operation says that hostages were kept under close surveillance and while in captivity, witnessed extreme carnage:

They didn’t allow us to move an inch. If you needed the toilet, they followed you. We were kept in one place. We were under bondage. We thank God to be alive today.

Defeating Boko Haram has been one of President Buhari’s main goals since he took office. Around 830 people were rescued from the group in March, and in April of this year, 2,000 more captives were freed.

There is no doubt that Buhari is banking on the recent rescue of 5,000 hostages to raise morale within the Nigerian army and among international partners.

However, only days after the rescue, another Boko Haram suicide attack took place in neighboring Cameroon, killing 11 civilians.

This was followed by the shocking arrest of one of President Buhari’s bodyguards, who reportedly has links to Boko Haram. Although the Nigerian government has not released a statement, many local news agencies have been reeling at the idea that operatives within the militant group could get so close to the president.

One local news agency has reported that Buhari is in the process of completely reorganizing his security team.

In The Guardian, Vincent Foucher wrote that Boko Haram cannot be defeated with traditional army methods:

Structural challenges make it hard to root out Boko Haram: massive, oil income-fed corruption; chronic bureaucratic mismanagement; growing pressure on natural resources; deepening poverty since the 1990s; northern Muslim elite manipulation of religious sentiment; a history of violence; and the fundamental dysfunction of Nigeria’s federal structure.

In addition, Foucher writes, methods of forgiveness and granting immunity to certain members of the group could prove successful: 

Nigeria and its neighbours should consider building on recent initiatives to reintegrate into the mainstream ex-Boko Haram combatants who are not ideologically violent extremists or war criminals.

Such strategies have worked in Uganda, where for years, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) fought a brutal battle in the northern part of the country. An immunity program that tried to bring fighters home worked well to rescue former child soldiers, as well as those who joined and later regretted their actions.

It will take considerably more effort to stop Boko Haram in Nigeria and surrounding nations. Displaced villagers, kidnapped civilians and those who lost their homes will require substantial time to recover and rebuild. However, with the army bringing home thousands of former captives, many are hopeful that in time, the violence in Northern Nigeria will end.

Photo Credit: Nigerian Military

85 comments

Sue H
Sue H5 months ago

I so hope that things have improved in the last couple of years.

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Jetana A
Jetana A5 months ago

This article is 2 years old. PLEASE UPDATE.

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Marija M
Marija M5 months ago

OMG, no polite comment

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Danuta W
Danuta W5 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Clare O
Clare O6 months ago

1300 people from Nigeria were walking across the Sahara recently while at the far side the border guards were planning to arrest them, rob them and turn them back into the desert.

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Clare O
Clare O6 months ago

Nigeria is the most populous part of Africa and will soon have more citizens than America.

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Clare O
Clare O6 months ago

Try banning all Saudi funded mosques.

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Clare O
Clare O6 months ago

th

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JoAnn P
JoAnn P6 months ago

Thank you for this very interesting article.

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Jack Y
Jack Y8 months ago

thanks

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